Joe Brown is a regional editor for RiverTown Multimedia. Prior to becoming regional editor, he was the sports editor of the Red Wing Republican Eagle from 2012-2018. He also worked as the sports editor for the Marshall Independent (2010-2012) and as a sports/news clerk for the St. Cloud Times (2008-2009). He graduated from St. Cloud State University with a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communication.
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Champion vs. champion. When high school golfers hit the links for the Class 3A state tournament Tuesday and Wednesday at Bunker Hills Golf Club, the defending 3A champions, Edina, will be pursued by last year’s 2A champions, Red Wing. “I think it’s probably the first time in the history of (state) golf where two champs are playing in the same class,” Wingers head coach Mark Herzog said. “That’s kind of unique. Edina’s got an easier way to get the low score because they’re a deeper team. It’s going to be interesting.”
ST. PAUL – Even with an oppressive 90-degree heat beating down on Hamline University, Kyle Groven was not about to run without his long black leggings. Looking to win state titles in the 100-, 400- and 4x400-meter relays, the Pine Island senior got some advice years ago from a former state champion in Minnehaha Academy's Jonathan Webb, who now runs for the University of Minnesota.
ST. PAUL – Little by little, Red Wing's Grahm Johnson climbs up the ladder with each discus throw. Coming in as the No. 1 seed in the Class 2A boys' discus at the Minnesota State Track and Field Championship, Johnson improved with each spin in the circle during prelims. First throw: 160 feet, 4 inches, then 166-2 and finally, a monster toss of 174-6. to get the No. 2 seed in finals. “It was good to get that one right away and build on that in the finals,” Johnson said.
NORTH MANKATO, Minn. – After watching Pequot Lakes warm up, Kevin Nelson had his strategy set: Speed kills. Zumbrota-Mazeppa's speed flustered the Patriots for seven innings. And speed is what helped the Cougars the school's first state championship. With seven stolen bases and five bunts that got Pequot Lakes more hot than the 90-degree temperatures at Caswell Park, Z-M's ability to scorch around the base paths secured the Class 2A championship with a 7-0 victory.
NORTH MANKATO, Minn. – It took until her senior year, but Aubrey Reuter is finally getting her chance to shine in the battery. The starting catcher for the Zumbrota-Mazeppa softball team this year, Reuter has had to bide her time. During head coach Kevin Nelson's tenure at Z-M, he's had three All-State catchers, and arguably none were better than Taylor Mort, who just graduated last spring. Mort's resume included three All-State selections, four All-Section and All-Hiawatha Valley League honors and the Republican Eagle's All-Area Player of the Year as a senior.
NORTH MANKATO, Minn. – Keep your emotions in check. After seeing a one-run lead against third-ranked Le Sueur-Henderson go away on a controversial non-strike call in the sixth inning resulting in a tying run, it could have broken Zumbrota-Mazeppa's spirit. But, the top-ranked Cougars kept their emotions in check. There was another inning of softball to play after all. And staying cool and collected amid chaos paid off for the Cougars as they are headed to the state finals for the first time in school history.
NORTH MANKATO, Minn. – Morgan Olson was nothing like Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton had seen all year. The ace for top-ranked Zumbrota-Mazeppa and a North Dakota State commit, Olson was one of the most dominant pitchers in Minnesota with an 18-0 record and a 0.917 ERA prior to Thursday’s Class 2A state quarterfinal matchup.
ROCHESTER – Throughout most of the season, Randolph was untouchable with senior Nate Overby on the mound. But Lewiston-Altura, they were completely untouchable in the Section 1A tournament. And because of that, the Cardinals are headed back to state. Cracking the bats for 15 hits against the Rockets' top starting pitcher, Lewiston-Altura needed just one game to win the section championship with a 7-0 victory at Mayo Field. The Cardinals never took a loss in the section tournament.
CANNON FALLS -- The back nine at Cannon Golf Club is so tough that even a 25-stroke lead didn’t feel safe for Red Wing. Mark Herzog, the Wingers’ girls’ golf coach was starting to worry when after eight holes, second-place Lakeville North cut eight strokes from its deficit with the toughest part of the course looming with a stiff wind “I knew that on the back nine, anything can happen. It can be a circus in the back nine,” Mark said.
Backyards are usually where kids can imagine when a baseball goes over the fence, they hit a home run at Target Field. Or, the family gets together for a light-hearted game of badminton. Perhaps the neighborhood kids are running around confined quarters for freeze tag. For Grahm Johnson and his siblings, their fun came from steel balls and weighted discus. It's far from the norm of wiffle balls and playgrounds, but it's perfectly natural for a family of throwers that have been a Red Wing track and field legacy for more than a decade.